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On the PNU Controversy July 26, 2006

Posted by s511 in education, Speeches.

Mr. Speaker, colleagues, mga kababayan, magandang hapon sa inyong lahat.

I rise today on the matter concerning the controversy hounding the Philippine Normal University. On June 24, the Board of Regents of PNU selected Atty. Lutgardo B. Barbo as the new university president. His selection has been hounded by issues concerning the BOR’s alleged utter disregard for its own criteria upon which it was supposed to select the best person to manage our country’s premier teacher training institution, the supplier of the quality teachers our educational system sorely needs.

Being a former teacher myself, this is a concern very close to my heart. I am sure there are those of us here whose mothers, fathers, grandparents were graduates of this University, the country’s center of excellence in teacher education. In fact, when we founded the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), I was the first chairperson and we had
Faculty members of the PNU (then PNC) as founding members of ACT.

Your children’s or grandchildren’s teachers are likely to have graduated from PNU, too. The PNU issue is a national concern because it reminds us all once again to take a hard look at the plight of education and teacher education in our country in general, and the provisions of RA 8292 otherwise known as Higher Modernization Act of 1997, in particular.

I filed a resolution to investigate, in aid of legislation, the PNU issue. At the heart of the issue is the blanket authority given by RA 8292 to the Governing Boards of State Universities and Colleges to appoint the President of SUCs. The law says that the president of a state institution shall be appointed by the BOR “upon the recommendation of a duly constituted search committee.” It must be remembered that one of the principles that underpinned the law on governance of SUCs is to depoliticize these institutions of higher learning to be truly faithful to the Constitutional provision on their enjoyment of academic freedom.

There are four issues hurled against the Governing Board of PNU:

1. The name of Atty. Barbo should not have been included in the short list of three (3) candidates submitted by the Search Committee. The formula used by the Search Committee was not the generally acceptable statistical formula. Re-computation using a more statistically acceptable formula would show that Atty. Barbo allegedly ranked last of the five candidates.

2. The report of the Search Committee would show that Atty. Barbo has allegedly four weaknesses against one weakness for each of the two other short listed candidates. What is claimed to be so glaring among his weaknesses was his limited knowledge of issues and developments in teacher education – a field that PNU specializes in. His four weaknesses are the very characteristics the BOR declared to be what the PNU President should have. It is important to note that one of the two candidates specializes in Science and Mathematics education and the other is a pioneer in Values Education. Both of them with managerial and administrative experience. Is it not that the government’s education thrusts are excellence in Mathematics and Science and moral renewal?

3. Accordingly the BOR reduced the minimum educational qualification from doctoral degree holder to preferably doctoral degree holder after Atty. Barbo had already been disqualified by the Search Committee and despite the classification of PNU as a level IV SUC which the Civil Service Commission requires to have a president with an appropriate doctoral degree as a minimum qualification.

4. On the day of the selection, the congressional representatives to the PNU BOR were said to have been merely represented by their respective staff. The question has been raised whether these representatives truly reflect the will and thinking of their principals? Or do they vote according to their personal beliefs, or perhaps merely accede to the lobbying of influential members of the board? During the PNU deliberations, for instance, designated representatives sitting in the BOR claimed that they had “no one in mind” when they arrived for the deliberations on the next president and relied merely on the “three-minute interviews” that each candidate sat through. When asked if they had consulted with their principals before voting, they said they didn’t need to.

There is an allegation that the BOR may not have strictly followed the guidance of the search committee. Is this the way we choose the presidents of state academic institutions? Who can the institution turn to when the BOR itself ignores the guidance of the search committee, and ignores the objective criteria for choosing the next president?

The PNU case is not an isolated one. There have been reports that other SUCs have had similar experience with their respective governing boards. Among those who have had such experience, which this August Chamber must also look into, were University of the Philippines, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Batangas State University, Eulogio Amang Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology, Cavite State University, and Philippine State College of Aeronautics, to name a few . The SUCs have become more vulnerable to political patronage. Are we not in the business of modernizing our higher education institutions to enable the Philippine universities and colleges to be at par with the rest of the world?

Academic institutions should be insulated from the claws of patronage politics. In politics, we answer the question who gets what, when, and how. Power is at the heart of politics. In the academe, merit is the basis of power. Knowledge is the source of privilege. Institutions of higher learning are protected by our Constitution by giving them a special right no other can enjoy and no other can take away from them. They are given academic freedom so they could freely exchange ideas that the present society in general may not necessarily find acceptable but the future generation might subsequently hold dear.

The charge is that political patronage in our academic institutions threatens the core values of academic life, endangers the sustained flow of ideas for the next generation, and puts in peril the one venue in our society where our children are taught to value merit over political connection, the power of knowledge over the power of connection and competence over convenience.

We owe so much from our academic institutions. During the dark years of martial rule, our intelligentsia and the student movement became the source of persistent opposition to the excesses of the Marcos regime. Today, when threats to our human rights and democratic life are creeping and mounting, institutions of higher learning remain to be our last line of defense. They educate our young to ensure that our experience with despotism shall never happen again.

I call upon my colleagues through the Committee on Higher and Technical Education to look into the controversy of the selection of the president of Philippine Normal University. I call upon the chairperson of CHTE, Hon. Cynthia A. Villar, known for her compassion and sensitivity to prevailing human and academic issues, to lead the way in shedding light to these issues that have cropped up.

I also call upon my colleagues to join me in revisiting RA 8292 to strengthen provisions that will further depoliticize state universities and colleges and explore legislative remedies that will further protect academic freedom of institutions of higher learning, educators, and students.

Maraming salamat po at Mabuhay tayong lahat!



1. Cromwell L. Valeriano - August 1, 2006

On behalf of the PNU faculty who are hoping for the same ideals of excellence in Philippine Education, we salute you Madame Rosales.

As a member of the faculty, it could have been easier for everyone to complacently and idly accept the process in selecting the new president while making the most of the situation however such attitude goes against the very essence of yearning for excellence in Philippine Education. This fight goes beyond the person of Atty. Barbo who has yet to show his desire for the immediate resolution of the issue within the institution. We have seen your dedication to truth and justice despite the fact that the willing victim/beneficiary of the PNU presidential selection is one of your personal acquaintance.

May other politicians show the same level of credibility and integrity when their friends and family are put to the test in terms of how the law is manipulated for selfish gain. God bless you and know that we will be standing with you to save PNU, to save Philippine Education.

2. Juan de la Cruz nang PNU Cadiz - March 16, 2007

Magandang araw po, we are glad to have found a post regarding the current state of the PNU educational system. Alam nyo ba po na dito sa Cadiz Campus nang PNU which has many outstanding records and is the best teacher training institution in the visayas ay naapektuhan na ang mga Teachers dito dahil wala pa pong sahod since September 2006. Alam nyo ba na nagugutom na ang mga teachers dito, at wala pa ring protest galing sa kanila. They continue teaching without pay. Pero sobra naman po yata di ba? Sana man lang sa kakaunting mensaheng ito, mapaabot sa mga taong maaring makatulong sa plight nang mga teachers dito na sana kahit man lang barya ay mapamahagian sila.

3. Darren E. Dumaop - April 8, 2007

I pray for the salvation of my alma mater, PNU, and also of the institution I serve, the Cavite State University. God bless Rep. Rosales, please continue to stir up the hard headed people who serve their stomach more than their nation. Para sa Inang Pamantasan, maraming salamat po.

4. expelled - September 11, 2007

Anu na ang nangyari sa pagsasalba sa putik na kinasasadlakan ng ating inang pamantasan??

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